Denny Emerson is always a favorite of mine to read; I remember reading his “Between Rounds” columns in the Chronicle many years ago. He shares his wisdom freely, whether it’s tips on riding skills or opinions on horsemanship. Today I stumbled across a piece he wrote for Horse Collaborative: How Do I Learn To Jump?
In typical Denny fashion, he makes the answer seem so simple. How do you learn to jump? Just do it. Set up a one-foot fence, and jump it. When you are bored, make it bigger. Some things you just have to learn by doing, and jumping is one of them.
“There are thousands of horses and riders who have far more “in there” than will ever be discovered. This is because we so often set limits for ourselves that are only real because we make them real, the “self fulfilling prophesy” syndrome.”
Of course, “make it bigger” could turn out to have crazy kids attempting to jump 4′ on ponies (um, I didn’t think it was that high?!). But I think Denny’s right: as riders, we should strive to expand our comfort zone. We should certainly respect our limits of safety, but make sure they are truly there, and not simply psychologically imposed from the fear of failure. When you’re ready, keep raising those jumps… you never know how high you can go until you try.